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Health

FLARe: Fear Learning and Anxiety Response

FLARe aims to model the processes underlying the development, maintenance and treatment of anxiety disorders, and post-treatment relapse.

Some people learn very quickly that certain things make them feel anxious, whereas others are less likely to experience these feelings. Similarly, there is variation in how quickly anxiety reduces following a stressful experience, and in how successfully people who are anxious respond to exposure based treatments.

In this study, we are interested in how people learn to be anxious of new things, and how they learn that some things that make them feel anxious might not always be unpleasant. We are also interested in the ways in which genes and the environment might contribute to this.

We have developed and validated a smartphone app that delivers a fear conditioning experiment remotely. We also assess a range of other anxiety-related features, such as particular patterns of thought. We ask volunteers to take part in this app-based experiment to help us understand the different role of genes and the environment on how anxiety develops, and how individuals respond to psychological treatment.

The FLARe app is constantly under development and is intended to be a flexible tool that can be used by researchers to quickly, easily and affordably collect fear conditioning data for their own studies. We hope to create a large database of fear conditioning data from across different studies and around the world to enable well powered explorations of interesting research questions.

If you are a researcher interested in using the FLARe app for your own study email Kirstin or Tom and we can support you in this process.

A paper demonstrating our work to validate the app is provided below:

Purves, K. L., Constantinou, E., McGregor, T., Lester, K. J., Barry, T. J., Treanor, M., Sun, M., Margraf, J., Craske, M. G., Breen, G., &  Eley, T. C. (in press). Validating the Use of a Smartphone App for Remote Administration of a Fear Conditioning Paradigm. Behaviour Research and Therapy. Pre-print available here https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/r9qtj

Project status: Ongoing

Principal investigators

Thalia Eley profile pic

Thalia Eley

Professor of Developmental Behavioural Genetics

Gerome Breen IoPPN

Gerome Breen

Professor of Psychiatric Genetics